Home Healthcare Healthcare Basics Health insurance for international students in the Netherlands
Last update on April 08, 2020

If you are planning to study in the Netherlands, find out if you need to enrol for the mandatory Dutch healthcare insurance while you live in the Netherlands and how to apply for proper medical coverage.

Students who are planning to start a course, internship or traineeship in the Netherlands need to find out what medical costs are covered during their stay, and whether they need to enrol for Dutch healthcare insurance. Depending on your studies and personal circumstances, certain students will need to get the mandatory Dutch healthcare insurance while they are living and studying in the country.

When are you required to get Dutch healthcare insurance?

Dutch healthcare insurance is obligatory for foreign students or interns who are studying in the Netherlands but also have a part-time job or paid internship (note: even a zero-hour or casual contract counts as a job).

Student health insurance Netherlands

In other cases, you can keep your home country insurance or get private insurance that covers medical care in the Netherlands. You can refer to the chart below to find out if you need Dutch healthcare insurance, if you can keep your home country healthcare insurance or if you need to get private healthcare insurance.

EU/EEA/Swiss residents: Keep your home country insurance with the EHIC

EU, EEA countries and Switzerland have agreements and treaties with the Netherlands about medical coverage. That is why you can often keep your home country insurance. However, it is important to make sure that your home country insurance covers medical care in the Netherlands and that they can issue a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to you. This EHIC gives you the same right to medical care as other Dutch residents who have basic Dutch health insurance (zorgverzekering). More information on the EHIC can be found on this page.

Basic health insurance in the Netherlands covers essential health care including general practitioner visits and treatments, medicine and hospital treatments. The basic insurance, however, does not always cover certain ‘specialised’ treatments like dental care, physiotherapy or vacation insurance.

If your stay in the Netherlands is shorter than three months, you are not typically required to apply for a residence permit. Contact the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB) through this page if you have any doubts about your insurance status and whether your home country insurance covers you in the Netherlands during your stay.

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss residents: Dutch healthcare insurance and private health insurance

If you are not from the EU/EEA or Switzerland and if you are planning to study for more than three months in the Netherlands, you are required to apply for a resident’s permit upon arrival. After obtaining the residence permit, you are obligated to take out Dutch health insurance. In the meantime, however, you can get private health insurance to be covered.

If you are not from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, you will have to verify with your current healthcare insurer whether or not they cover medical costs in the Netherlands. If not, it is highly recommended that you get a private health insurance that covers the most essential medical care in the Netherlands. There are several private health insurers that offer special international healthcare insurance for foreigners that are going to study in the Netherlands, including:

Necessary steps to get basic Dutch healthcare insurance

In order to obtain Dutch healthcare insurance you need to complete several steps:

  1. Obtain a residence permit at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). In order to apply for such a permit you need the following documents: a legal and certified copy of your birth certificate, document(s) that prove you have a permanent place to live in the Netherlands, and a legal and valid passport.
  2. After successful registration at the IND you can go to the local town hall (in the city you are residing) and register yourself as a new inhabitant. You will then receive a citizen service number (BSN).
  3. With this number, you can compare and select your own basic Dutch healthcare insurance, and, if desired, any supplementary health cover packages. Here is an overview of all Dutch healthcare insurers.

Medical costs covered by basic Dutch healthcare insurance

All Dutch healthcare insurance companies offer the exact same basic health care cover package (basisverzekering). This package contains the following medical coverage:

  • Visits and treatment by a general practitioner,
  • Pharmaceuticals (with reference from a physician/general practitioner),
  • Medical care, operations and other treatments performed by doctors and physicians, such as cardiologists, dermatologists, surgeons, etc.,
  • Certain medical aids,
  • Dental care (until the age of 18),
  • Physiotherapy for people with certain chronic diseases,
  • Psychological health care (with reference from a physician),
  • Hospital care,
  • Pregnancy  and birth care (maternity and obstetric care),
  • Emergency transport by ambulance,
  • Occupational therapy,
  • Speech-language pathology,
  • Dietary advice,
  • Special health care programs and population medical research,
  • Emergency medical treatment according to Dutch standards.

Each of the above items will have their requirements and possible limitations regarding financial compensation. The healthcare insurer will provide this information.

Choosing basic Dutch healthcare insurance

Although the content of basic Dutch healthcare insurance is the same with every insurer, the monthly fee, service, excess (deductible) and available choice of health care providers can vary depending on the chosen health insurance company and policy. Hence, it is advisable to compare Dutch healthcare insurance companies based on their monthly fee and policy. Ask a Dutch-speaking friend or colleague to assist you.

If you fail to get basic Dutch health insurance once it is obligatory, you risk a penalty from the government.

If you are unsure about your current healthcare situation, contact the Sociale Verzekeringsbank (Social security institute).